Use Your Words. . . Tiny Tot Tuesday

love

“Use your words.”

This is a phrase I often hear moms use with their children. As young children learn to speak, it’s often hard for them to find the right words from their limited vocabulary, and so they can easily get frustrated. With frustration, comes whining, crying and yes, even sometimes the occasional temper tantrum–from both child and parent! Learning to use our words helps communicate our thoughts and our heart, and although some might say love needs to be shown rather than said, I suppose I’ve always been a believer that it’s a combination of both.

Since it’s February and almost Valentine’s Day I’ve been thinking about love. When it comes to teaching our children about love, I mean really teaching them about love, using our words can be a huge asset.

This month in our children’s department at church we are teaching our children I Corinthians 13:4-8 which says,

“Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud. It isn’t rude.
It’s not self seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Using this Scripture as a model, we can begin to use our words to teach our children about love.

For example:
1) You are going to the grocery store. You know there is a great probability that you will have to wait in line to check out and they/you will begin to get impatient, angry, you may want to say something that is just a little rude or you may find yourself a little jealous of the line next to you that is going a little faster.

You can begin to use your words before you ever enter the store, and so you can say, “Before we go into the store, let’s choose to show love. We are going to be patient if our line is slow. Let’s think of something kind we can say to the worker, because love is kind.”

2) Starting to get angry? (Not at me, at our imaginary trip to the store!) You can simply say, “Let’s look around what do we have to be thankful for. We don’t want to start getting angry, because love is not easily angered.” Then refocus that energy by counting candy bars or playing thumb wars or saying a little prayer for the people around you and yourselves.

3) When your child tells the truth about something–and not just when they have been in trouble–Rejoice!! Tell them you are rejoicing. Tell them why you are rejoicing. Because love rejoices with the truth, and truth is good and you want to honor that.

4) Your children are bickering (yes it will still happen) and tattling about current or past offenses. Have your child make a list of positive things about the person they are upset with to replace their “record of wrongs” list. Use your words to remind them that “love does not keep a record of wrongs.”

I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many ways that we can speak love into our children’s lives as it relates to how they treat others. Sometimes it just comes down to staying intentional and remembering to make the most of those teaching able moments.

Because aren’t you thankful that God is patient with us? I am so thankful that He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He is not a God who delights in evil, but rather He rejoices with the truth, and He protects us, is kind to us and He will endure beyond forever.

These are great words to use with our tiny tots.

Disclaimer–I was going to share some fun Valentine craft for you to do with your children, but decided to “use my words” instead. For great Valentine craft ideas, feel welcome to kindly check out Pinterest! I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

like-us-on-facebook

Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

kids answers magazine

It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ka

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.

dinosaur

ark

http://creationmuseum.org/

Boys to Men–Mama Mia Monday

boys

Well, prepare yourself for a week of post wedding posts! You won’t hurt my feelings at all if you decide to pass right on by, but as I decompress from wedding weekend palooza, there are still so many things that I treasure from our time.

One of those has to do with Trevor’s friends. One of the terms they use to describe their lives and the things they have done is “grown man saga.” I know that as I talked with them and observed them this weekend I’m more likely to choose “Boys to Men.” Not Boyz II Men, the group, but these boys have become and are becoming men, and I am so proud of them.

I don’t know all of their moms, but if their moms are reading this, I want them to know they, too, should be very proud of their sons.

Because as they are transitioning from boys to men, they are growing in character. This weekend we watched them as they cared about others more than themselves. Our sons know how to work and serve. They honor the women in their lives and the women around them. They are friendly, kind and compassionate, all the while exuding strength, masculinity and a strong competitive spirit. They can cook, clean, cry and wrestle–oh can they wrestle. They still love bubbles, wearing sheriff’s badges and silly hats. Those that have already married are devoted to their their wives. They love God, and they are willing to sacrifice to serve Him.

bubbles

nelson

trevor

Mama Mia! These are the boys we dreamed of raising. And how did we do it?

Jesus. Grace. Commitment. Forgiveness. Perseverance. Love, lots of love. Prayer, lots of prayer. Tears, lots of tears.

We’ve allowed them to fail, to fall, to make mistakes that they had to wrestle out with God as He humbled them, molded them and shaped them; and we’ve allowed God to do the same to us.

We’ve encouraged them, disciplined them, maybe even been a bit, just a bit, frustrated with them. But we didn’t give up on them, and God in his infinite wisdom and grace stepped in and where we were weak, He was strong; where we were inadequate, He was capable; where we may have failed, He is bringing victory.

I saw great things in these boys this weekend. I saw the character of Christ in them. I saw it in Trevor, and I saw it in Kyle, Nelson, Sunshine, Chase, Zach, Miller, Daniel, Cameron, Creighton, Austin, Tyler, Ryan, Scott and the boys of Boatman, Williamson and Strong Halls, and it made me proud to know them.

boys 3

Even more, it makes me proud to know the God that is helping moms everywhere raise their sons from Boys to Men. Don’t give up moms, because while this going from Boys to Men thing may not always be pretty, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

boys 2

Advent-ures in Christmas (Dadderday!)

jesse-tree-book

Hey Dads,

Usually it seems as though the moms take on these kinds of jobs–y’know, things like Christmas crafts and family devotions. But what if this year, that was a little bit different? What if this year you initiated the spiritual side of Christmas? I’m not saying you have to do it all alone. If there is a mom in your family’s picture, I hope she would be willing to work with you on this one, but if not, don’t be afraid to jump in and tackle the December adventure known as advent.

Advent simply means “coming,” as in Jesus is coming! Celebrating advent is a way to help your children, your family, to focus on that real meaning of Christmas we all hope to find.

Advent is more than just calendars with candy and prizes, it’s a way to pass on our heritage as believers and to create a spiritual foundation for your children.

The Jesse Tree is a great way to not only engage your children, but to get engaged with your children and the Christmas story.

The Jesse Tree comes from the book of Isaiah, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”  (Isaiah 11:1),  and dates back to the middle ages.

Jesse_Tree

More recently Geraldine McCaugherean has written a delightful book that has interwoven a story that takes you day by day through the symbols of the Jesse tree. Each passage is a quick glimpse into the life of a local carver who is creating a Jesse tree and a local boy who comes to bother visit him each day subtley tricking him into telling the stories. Of course, as the stories unfold, so does the story.

There are gajillions of ways to incorporate the symbols into your own family’s life. One is available here: http://printables.yourway.net/christmas/jesse-tree-ornaments/  free printables that would allow your children to color and create the symbols and gives you a scripture reading plan to coorelate them together.

 

Leading your family spiritually can be a little intimidting sometimes, but c’mon dads, get in on the “Advent-ure” this December with your kids and The Jesse Tree, and make every day in December a Dadderday!

jess tree 3     JT-jessetree  jesse tree 2

 

 

Giving Thanks It’s Rightful Place…mat

placemat

Sorry November Christmas lovers, Christmas isn’t until December, and it just drives me crazy when we plow right by Thanksgiving in our quest for all being calm and bright, merry and white.

So for those of you who join me in my attempt to preserve the pilgrim holiday, here’s a fun idea you can do with your tiny tots to give thanks, and Thanksgiving, its rightful place in our holiday celebrations. Try making these Thanksgiving placemats that can be used all month to help center your family on all the things they can be thankful for. (I only had my Children’s Ministry magazine when I made mine, so it’s a little limited. Oh, well, onward we go. . . .)

What do you need?

Glad you asked.

Paper, magazines, glue sticks, markers and either clear contact paper or a laminator–cold or hot will do.

Give the paper a little heading of some kind.

I stayed pretty low key with the simple, “I’m thankful for. . “

Let your kids cut out pictures of things they are thankful for and glue them on to the paper. Or they could draw things or they could use pictures. For those of you who are really into crafting, grab the glitter and your little foam stickers and let the kids embellish away!

Seal the paper with the contact paper or laminating sheets.

Ta-da! You are one crafty mom, gramma, Sunday school teacher, small group leader, neighbor, aunt, uncle. . . . .

What a simple way to be reminded all month long of just a few of the things that you are thankful for.

And for those of you who just can’t help but be in the Christmas zone, why not have your kids make these for some of the people they are thankful for. Just include pictures of things that remind them of why they are thankful for that person and give them as gifts!

Smart. Tiny Tots giving the gift of thanks–I love it. Have a fun Tiny Tot Tuesday with the little ones you are thankful for!

Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?

WhyCantIGetMyKidsToBehave-COVER-210x300

It’s a Mama Mia Monday and I have a great resource to share with you mamas out there.  Our friends, Joey and Carla Link, have written a dandy of a book. I am so excited to see in print the principles they taught Tim and me, and thousands of others, about parenting our children.

Why Can’t I Get My Child to Behave? is practical and personal, filled with the tools, examples, and encouragement to see us through our parenting journeys on both our brightest and darkest days.

Joey and Carla walk us through the importance of real obedience, and how to bring our children to God’s standard. They share with us the tools of structure, routine, discipline and consequences, as well as how to focus on the inward not just the outward aspects of our children’s lives.

Before I tell you all about it, I hope you will soon find the time to pick up a copy of your own and begin to apply the principles the Links are sharing with us. Why Can’t I Get My Child to Behave? is available at Amazon in both paperback and kindle editions, at Barnes and Noble and through their moms’ notes website www.momsnotes.com/orderingresources

 

 

 

Thankful for a Change–Teaching Thankfulness to our Tiny Tots

clip art leaves

 

Facebook explodes in November with daily postings of thankfulness, and I, for one, love it! I love reading the things my friends are thankful for in their lives, and I really appreciate taking time to stop and think about all I am truly thankful for. So why keep the fun all to ourselves?? Why not share it with our children? After all, like the changing of the colors of the leaves, a thankful heart is a beautiful and welcome change from everyday life.

Here’s something really, really simple you can do with your kids this month to help them focus on all they have, more than all they may want. (Christmas lists are out already, yikes!)

SImply trace your child’s hand and forearm to make the  trunk and branches of a tree. Doesn’t matter if you use brown paper or white and let your kids color it brown. Then trace out some leaves like those above. Again, you can use colored paper or just use the white stuff you have in the printer and color and cut away.

Or if you are one of the Cricut people (and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that–I love my Cricut friends, they make me look good, I just don’t have one myself) go to town cricutting some leaves.

Find a place to stick your tree up–I’m thinking the fridge, but it may be a door or a bedroom wall. . . .

Then everyday have your children write something they are thankful for, or they can tell you something and you can write it, and place your leaves either on the tree or at the base of the tree or cascading gently down from the tree.

If your kids are like mine were, there will be days when they will want to share more than one thankful thought–Awesome!!! Let ‘em go for it! Because a thankful heart changes us, it makes us beautiful and a joy to be around. It helps us to remember what we have and how blessed we are.

So have some fun with your tiny tots this fall and be thankful for a change in them, in you and in those around you.

Afterall, ’tis the season!

 

 

Adult-ery

adultery

Adult-ery. . .

. . .In its simplest form is a grown up thing. Yet, it is a grown up thing that affects us all–especially our children.

During the month of October in our children’s ministry, HiSKidZ were challenged to memorize the 10 Commandments. Towards the end of the month each small group chose a commandment and then decorated a pumpkin to represent that commandment. My older son joked from Russia, “Who’s going to get adultery?” Well, with 8 small groups and 10 Commandments, that one fell to me.

I created the simple pumpkin above centering more on the honor side of the commandment than the dishonorable side of it. (This worked, in part, because we were also studying about honor in the Bible last  month. Besides, what else would you put on that pumpkin????)

As the kids were coming in they stopped to check out my pumpkin. A couple asked what is meant and I told them it was commandment #7 “Do not commit adultery,” and one replied quite nonchalantly, “Oh yeah, my dad did that.” Broke. My. Heart.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that  dads are not the only ones who  either initiate or commit adultery, but just because moms and people without children do it, too, does not make it right.

But since today is a “Dadderday” post, I want to talk to the dads for a second.

Dads. Don’t do it.

Walk away.

Run away.

Count the cost.

Live with honor

Model integrity.

Express self control.

Keep your vows.

Get right with God.

Parent your children.

Stop

what

you

are

doing

now.

For your sake, for your wife’s sake, for your children’s sake, for the sake of the name of the Lord, for the other person’s sake. . . .

Stop acting like an adult-erer and begin acting like a child of God again.

Matthew 26:41 says, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

So often we read this verse and we center in on one part of the verse and are like, “Oh man, the flesh is weak, what can I do?”

What can we do??? We can look at the other four parts of the verse that’s what can do.

Keep watching.

Keep praying.

Don’t enter into temptation.

The Spirit is willing.

That’s 4-1 in favor of victory, and the fact that “the flesh is weak” is in there isn’t an excuse for sin; it’s a warning against it.

Dads, I have no idea where you are right now in your life, your job, your home, your walk with God, but I know that there are little people watching everything you are doing, and your actions have consequences and cause responses and reactions, some of which you will have no control over. But this one you do.

When it comes to the Ten Commandments, we teach HiSKidZ that the 10 are 2 and the 2 is just 1. The ten become “love God and  love others.” And the two become one, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” For when you live out the one, you want to live out the two, and when you are living out the two, you are living out the ten.

So do whatever it takes to live out #1, and #7 will take care of itself.